A grocery store owner was stocking up his fridges with Pepsi products when he noticed a new logo on some of the sodas. When he took a closer look, he immediately pulled the products off the shelves and informed his customers he would not be selling them due to the “offensive” message.
For Phillip Stewart, connecting with customers can mean the difference between making a living and bankruptcy. Every business decision he makes will potentially earn the Georgian entrepreneur a profit or cause him to take a loss, possibly even a devasting hit if he’s not careful.
As the owner of S&Z Grocery off of Highway 72, Stewart sees a variety of consumers from all walks of life come through his supermarket. Of course, these customers have incredibly diverse political and social opinions, which ordinarily wouldn’t be much of an issue for typical business owners. However, due to Stewart’s strong personal convictions, he’s changed the way he’s doing business in a controversial move.
While stocking his refrigerators, Stewart noticed a detail on some of the Pepsi bottles that he’d never seen before. When he took a closer look, he realized that he simply couldn’t sell the beverages and uphold his personal beliefs. It was then that he made a difficult and incredibly risky business move.
According to WAFF, Stewart announced on Facebook that he has officially banned certain Pepsi products from his supermarket because they contain the NFL logo on the label. The Athens store owner concluded that because Pepsi has decided to team up with a market that supports its employees disrespecting the American flag, National Anthem, and police officers, he will no longer offer their products.
“This may cause me to lose some business, but here goes,” Stewart wrote. “S&Z supermarket currently will not be selling 20 ounce Pepsi or Diet Pepsi. These two items are currently produced with the NFL logo on them. I refuse to sell the product until the logo is removed. I will not bow down in order to the make a dollar as long as the athletes are allowed to bow down and disrespect the flag and country that I love.”
Stewart admitted that the decision was risky for business but ultimately came to the conclusion that he personally doesn’t want to support a company that has taken such a stance when it comes to honoring the flag. As such, Stewart announced that he was pulling 20-ounce Pepsi and Diet Pepsi products with the logo, which includes certain Gatorade bottles.
“I don’t want to support them in any way, because I feel like its’s just wrong. I can’t in good conscious sell the product, because it does have the logo on it,” said Stewart. “I pulled them myself, the customers didn’t know I was doing this. I sold the product that I had that did not have the logo on it. And I told my rep as well as the delivery guy that I did not want those brought into the store, because I would not sell them.”
After making the decision based on his personal convictions, Stewart was pleasantly surprised to find that most of his customers supported the move. Still, those who didn’t expressed more of a neutral stance, admitting that they didn’t care either way.
Aaron Bishop sees where Stewart is coming from, but the labels don’t bother him. “Do I personally care? No, I don’t. I’ll grab a Pepsi, I’ll hit my Nike golf clubs. That will make some people mad, but I’ve got other things to worry about,” said Bishop, who is a Marine veteran.
Stewart says that, while he disagrees with the kneelers and those who support them, he understands their right to protest. However, he reiterates that he also has the right to demonstrate against their tactics, which includes refusing to sell products bearing the NFL logo, according to WHNT.
“The cause is just. I think there are other ways to deal with it. This has brought attention to it. I’m sure there is good that comes from this, I just don’t agree with the tactic,” Stewart said.
Stewart explained that he thinks the kneelers have some justification in their cause but adds that using game time as a platform for their political beliefs isn’t appropriate. Until the logo is removed from the products, he vows not to restock them.
“This helps me sleep at night. I can sleep knowing that I’m not supporting somebody that’s doing something I don’t believe in,” Stewart explained.
Since his announcement, Stewart has seen major support for his cause and his business. Although some social media users demanded patrons boycott his Georgia store, it doesn’t appear to have negatively affected him in any way. In fact, quite the opposite has occurred.
Stewart will keep the ban on Pepsi items that contain the NFL logo on their labels, offering Coke products instead. So far, the vast majority of his customers are on board with his decision and continue to purchase from his store.